I do almost all the cooking for Thanksgiving. My mother seasons the turkey (I help out a bit with that) and roasts it in the oven. I kick her out of the kitchen and take over. There are so many things I like to make for Thanksgiving that I often have a pre-Thanksgiving cooking & baking session. The night before I make a vegetarian (ish) meal and get a head start on the next day's desserts. The thing I look forward to most around Thanksgiving is going grocery shopping at Wilson Farms. I upgrade from the small basket to a small cart and have a field day buying all sorts of fresh produce. I get all giddy. I do this alone because no one could appreciate the joy I get from this experience quite like I can.
This is my cooking/eating plan for Thanksgiving. I'd love to hear from you what side-dishes and desserts you plan to make or if there is anything unique or unusual that you do for Thanksgiving. Hope you all have a safe and happy holiday!
Day Before Thanksgiving
~ A few years ago, I came across Sandra Dee's recipe for Sweet Onion Tartlets and was flabbergasted. It looked so amazing and simple and delicious. Now I make it every year for my pre-Thanksgiving dinner.
~ They are a little too much for Thanksgiving lunch/dinner proper, so I cook them for the dinner the night before. I slowly cook onions separately in butter until they get nice and soft and set aside. Then I cook the brussel sprouts in butter and olive oil until they get nice and brown then I add chicken broth (or vegetable broth). Then I cook the brussel sprouts until they get soft. I drain the broth and smother the brussel sprouts with the buttered onions. This is so decadent. If you want to make this illegal, add some crispy bacon bits on top.
~ I'm not sure what to do here but I'm tempted to make a salad of mesclun mix, sliced pears, walnuts and feta cheese. Or maybe candied pecans? With a basic balsamic vinegarette. Bottled because I'm horrible at making balsamic dressings.
Brandied Pumpkin Pie (with Splenda)
~ My dad is border-line diabetic so I always replace the sugar content in my pumpkin pie recipe with Splenda. Also, it's been a couple of years since I made a brandied pumpkin pie so I thought I'd add a nice bit of brandy to the pie to give it a spicy kick. Not too much like that one year... Let's just say I got a bit woozy after a few slices. Oops!
Thanksgiving at my Parents
~ I don't like Sandra Dee but she did give me a good tip for cooking a turkey. My mom seasons the skin of the turkey the night before and I make an herbed butter log. I chop sage and thyme and add some dried oregano, salt and pepper and mix it into some softened butter. I take the buttered mixture and spoon it into the bottom of a ziploc bag, creating a log and I freeze it overnight. The next morning, when we are ready to put the turkey in the oven, I cut slices of the frozen herbed butter log and put the slices in between the skin and the meat of the turkey. When the turkey cooks, the butter slices melt causing all sorts of deliciousness in the roasting process.
~ I buy sourdough bread from Panera the day before and then the next day I cut it up into chunks. I make a vegetable mixture of mushrooms, carrots, onions, celery and garlic and I cook it in butter and oil until the vegetables get soft. Then I add a bit of chicken broth and mix everything into a buttered baking dish with the bread chunks. I add a couple of beaten eggs into the mixture to help it bind then I baste the top with a bit of melted butter and make in the oven. Yum! I've tried making this with sausage but I just don't care for meat in my stuffing.
~ I didn't grow up with canned cranberry sauce, so I make my own. It's so simple! Cranberries, butter, sugar, juice from an orange and some orange rind. Cook it over medium heat until the cranberries start to pop and give away their structure. Delicious!
~ My only trick to this is butter and skim milk. I think cream takes away from the natural flavor of the potatoes. I like mine a bit chunky to remind the eater, that hey! these are potatoes you are eating!
~ As far as peas are concerned, I keep them simple. Frozen peas are parboiled then smothered in butter and topped with salt and cracked pepper. Yay!
Green Bean Casserole
~ I tried making Tyler Florence's homemade version but it was too much work. Cans of cream of mushroom soup, some green beans and some french fried onions. No cheese this year because of some stomach issues shared by myself, Carlos and my parents.
~ God knows I have tried to make homemade gravy but I can't get it right. There is a fine balance between flour, fat and broth and getting the roux dark enough for a good looking gravy. I just can't do it. So I buy canned. I figure, if anything, it's just one less thing I have to do.
Thanksgiving with Carlos & Friends
Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Cookies
~ I wanted to contribute something to the Thanksgiving dinner seeing as I'm a guest, so I asked Carlos what he thought I should bring. He was enamored with these cookies I had made during the summer. It was from a baking contest recipe from Betty Crocker. Peanut butter cookies, dipped in chocolate and dusted in powdered sugar. I can make them the night before and they are easily transportable. I may get arrested though because they are completely sinful. So please visit me in jail, I get lonely.